Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a Growing Epidemic
With the growing obesity epidemic, NAFLD is now believed to be the most common liver disease worldwide, affecting an estimated 10 percent of children and one-third of adults in the United States alone. The most severe form of NAFLD, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) affects 2-3 percent of all adults and children, but is found in approximately 25 percent of children who have fatty liver. Up to one-quarter of patients with NASH may go on to more severe fibrosis, cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease.
NASH is currently the third leading cause of liver transplantation in adults in the United States, and severe scarring (cirrhosis) can begin to develop in childhood and adolescence. Therefore, our goal is to identify children and adolescents at risk for NAFLD and NASH to prevent the progression to cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. The majority of patients with pediatric NAFLD or NASH are overweight or obese, and many have associated health problems, such as insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension and dyslipidemia (features of metabolic syndrome). Achieving a healthier weight through better diet and increased activity can be very successful in improving or resolving NALFLD / NASH. Other treatments are also being evaluated in clinical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health.
How We're Different
Our core multidisciplinary team includes physicians with expertise in hepatology and pediatric weight management, as well as experienced nurse managers and registered dietitians.
- We use state-of-the-art protocols to evaluate patients for other potential causes of chronic hepatitis and confirm the presence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH); these include our pioneering use of magnetic resonance elastography to detect clinically significant fibrosis in children with chronic liver disease.
- We comprehensively screen for closely-related comorbid conditions -— including diabetes mellitus type 2, obstructive sleep apnea, dyslipidemias, gallstones and hypertension —- so these conditions can be effectively managed.
- Rigorously tracked outcomes have shown that our clinical program results in significant mean improvements in liver enzyme levels and body mass indices after one year of participation.
- We are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded NASH Clinical Research Network, providing access to innovative multi-center studies and clinical trials.
Cutting-edge research and trials:
- Institutional Review Board-approved Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Registry so patients can be notified of new clinical trial opportunities
- Access to research studies and therapeutic treatment trials, including treatment trials funded by the National Institutes of Health through the NASH Clinical Research Network
- Find a research study through our Clinical Trials Office